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Wild Women Wednesday: Widow Jones

COWGIRL LIFE

Wild Women Wednesday: Widow Jones

A lively, petite woman with dark hair and dark eyes coaxed a pair of blonde mares pulling a well-used buggy toward a train depot in Taylorsville, Texas.  When the vehicle reached the building, she tugged on the reins, and the horses came to a quick stop.  Nine curious men waiting on the platform and carefully eyed her every move.

According to the March 19, 1898, edition of San Antonio, Texas’ Daily Light newspaper, the men were waiting for the narrow gauge to arrive and transport them all to Davisburg.  The last thing they expected to encounter was the very high-spirited, gregarious Widow Jones.

Carrying a stack of letters bound together with a blue ribbon, she approached each man and studied his face carefully.  “Are you Mr. John Hope?” she inquired of them one at a time.  They all told her “no”, and when she had passed the last one, she came back to one of the men dressed in uniform.  His rank was that of colonel.  The widow sat down on a bag of land-plaster and took a photograph from her pocket and said, “That’s the man I’m after, but it seems he hasn’t showed up.”

“Your husband, ma’am?” queried the colonel.  

“Not jest yit, sah.  He was to be if he had got here today, and we liked the looks of each other, but I guess he’s backed out.  What sort of galoot would you take him to be?”

“I shouldn’t like to pass an opinion on a friend of yours.”

“Oh, you needn’t mind that,” replied the woman, as she used a switch on the bags beside her.  “Would you say he was a squar’ man?  He lives over at Gordonsville, and we’ve been correspondin’ by mail.  He was to be here today to marry me, but he’d flunked right out.  Does he look like a flunk to you?”

“Well, ma’am,” said the colonel, after a good look at the photograph, “he may be a good man or a bad one.  I wouldn’t want to do him an injustice, you know.”

“Is his nose sat on right?”

“It’s a pretty fair nose.”

“Is he too wide between the eyes?”

“Perhaps, not.”

“How’s his mouth?”

“Really, my dear woman, you must excuse me,” said the colonel, as he returned the photograph.  “You see…”

“Yes, I see,” interrupted the woman, as she received it.  “I see I’m a widder and he’s a widder for fur five years.  This feller puts an ad in a paper for a wife, I send him a picture; he falls in love with me and writes me over fifty love letters.  I finally give him my heart.  He is to be here on the train to marry me.  He don’t show up.  I am left.  What is to be done about it?”

“I…I don’t know, ma’am,” stammered the colonel.

“Are you married?”

“Yes’m.”

“All the others married?”

“All married,” the men replied in chorus.

“Then I tell you what is to be done about it!” she explained, as she rose up and flourished the switch around.  “I git into my buggy and drive back home.  I stand on a stump in the front yard and blow the dinner horn.  About fifteen different fellers who want to marry the Widder Jones will come gallopin’ down the road and across lots and the prize, and Mr. John Hope of Gordonsville, kin go to grass and be hanged to him!  That’s me, and that’s my way, and if any of you want to kiss the bride, now’s your golden opportunity.”

Exactly what happened after the Widow Jones made the bold announcement was not noted.  The reporter for the Daily Light speculated that the men were too stunned to respond.  They boarded the train as soon as it arrived, and the widow, and jilted mail-order bride, returned to her buggy and drove off into the countryside.   

What do you think?

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Chris Enss is a New York Times Bestselling author who writes about women of the Old West.

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